October 29, 2012
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A great salesperson will always beat a great product.
You may only have the third-best product on the market, yet you can still beat your competition and close deals with clients, simply because you’re a better salesperson than the competition. You could have an inferior technology, yet you can close a round of venture funding, simply because investors believe in you more than they do the competition.
A good company buys into the salesperson first. The product? That comes second.
One of my startups, is RewardMe, a customer loyalty platform for restaurants and retail stores. I closed my first big deal with one of the largest franchises in the U.S. when I was introduced via email (to the manager) through a mutual acquaintance.
Here’s how you can do the same:
1. Ask important preliminary questions.
I scheduled a phone call to learn more about the manager’s goals, and the vision for her project. Before you schedule such a phone call, create a list of questions to help understand the client’s pain points and needs. Then position the pitch to win the deal.
I always ask questions like: “If money and time were not obstacles, what is your grand vision for the project? What are your greatest challenges right now? What are your other options besides us? What is the time frame for this project?”
At the end of the call, I scheduled a coffee meetup with her for the following week.
2. Position your company to match the client.
As a large franchise, my potential client had a very large in-house design team, but no tech team. Therefore, I positioned my company as a ”technology-centric firm with experience working alongside in-house design teams to create engaging social apps.”
During our call, I also found out that she was trying to create a report for her team about creative social applications that other large U.S. franchises had launched in the past six months. Knowing this, I had my team put together a 10-page report detailing 10 different creative campaigns.
I handed a hard copy to her during our meeting and let her know that another copy had been sent to her inbox.
3. Measure yourself against the competition.
Over coffee, I learned that my company was in the running with three other agencies in the loyalty space.
The competing agencies were no scrubs; they had big-name client case studies and had the official “Facebook preferred partner” title that is so hard to get.
So we had to find other ways to distinguish ourselves. We looked for differences in product offerings, customization options, or even a more convenient team location proposition. I decided to bring our lead engineer to the meeting with me to show them the importance of having a local team.
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